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Mary  Todd  Lincoln 

Hospital  Visits  as  First  Lady 

Excerpts  from  newspapers  and  other  sources 

From  the  files  of  the 
Lincoln  Financial  Foundation  Collection 


To  the  Editor  qf  the  ChicoQo  Journal : 

Chicago,  July  18.— The  death  of  the  widow 
of  the  Amerloan  emancipator  will  cause  a  f  eellnjf 
of  sorrow  and  sadness  all  oyer  the  country,  but  it 
will  be  a  cause  of  particular  sorrow  to  the  soldiers 
of  the  Army  of  the  Potomac,  who,  when  sick  or 
wounded  in  the  Wasbln^^ton  hoapitals.  were  the 
objects  of  her  especial  care  and  attention.  At  the 
first  battle  of  FrederioltsburK  I  received  a  painful 
wound  in  the  face;  the  bullet '  splintered  the 
jaw  and  knocked  out  half  a  dozen  teeth.  I 
was  taken  to  the  Armory-Square  Hospital, 
at  Washln/?ton,  and  Dr.  Bliss,  who  attended  Gen. 
Garneld.  was  the  man  who  sayed  my  face  from 
Utter  dlsflicuroment  Amonsr  the  ifiany  who  came 
to  the  hospital  to  speak  coeeriof:  words  to  the 
afflicted  none  were  moro  kind  ur  '»how«d  a  nobler 
spirit  than  the  wife  of  ths  chief  ma^trate  of  the 
Nation.  She  called  regularlr*  brin^clntr  with  her, 
by  attendants,  flowers  and  deiicadea,  and  bestow- 
InfT  thorn  with  her  own  band. with  ja  rraca  worthy  of 
the  station  she  held.  The  oyde  oT  time  1«  ended 
with  her.  .  She  iif  at  rest  with  he?  soirQW^  but 
,  though  dead  she  still  liyee  in  the  meinonr  of  tboee 
whose  afiDzUea  she  soothfid.with  .lOTlnir  words.  ■•. 

Bulletin  of  the  Lincoln  National  Ldfe  Foundation  -  "  Dr.  Louis  A.  Warren,  Editor 

Published  each  week  by  The  Lincoln  National  Life  Insurance  Company,  Fort  Wayne,  Indiana 

Number  683  FORT  WAYNE,  INDIANA  May  11,  1942 


In  the  little  personal  notes  that  passed  between 
Abraham  Lincoln  and  his  wife  during  the  White  House 
days,  he  often  addressed  her  as  "mother."  It  is  to  be 
regretted  that  she  has  not  been  allowed  to  occupy  this 
reverent  role  in  the  thinking  of  the  American  people, 
but  possibly  in  the  atmosphere  of  "Mother's  Day"  her 
most  ardent  critics  will  not  begrudge  her  this  brief 

There  seems  to  have  been  few  attempts  to  gather  and 
emphasize  some  of  the  commendable  things  that  Mary 
Lincoln  did,  and  it  was  refreshing,  indeed,  to  come 
across  a  brief  personal  reminiscence  of  her  by  Howard 
Glyndon  appearing  in  The  Independent  for  August  10, 
1882.    He  writes: 

"She  was  very  generous  to  the  sick  soldiers  in  camp 
and  in  the  hospitals  around  Washington.  I  remember 
many  of  her  voluntary  and  unsolicited  deeds  of  kindness, 
and  she  visited  the  camps  and  hospitals  frequently. 
These  were  not  the  things  which  it  suited  the  conven- 
ience of  her  defamers  to  have  a  cognizance  of,  or  to 
allow  to  go  on  record.  I  am  ashamed  that  today  nothing 
of  Mary  Lincoln's  goodness  of  heart  in  this  respect  nor 
the  sums  of  money  spent  by  her  and  by  Mr.  Lincoln  for 
the  sick  and  suffering  during  the  war  is  remembered  or 
spoken  of." 

A  more  important  reference  to  Mrs.  Lincohi's  motherly 
attitude  toward  the  soldiers  is  told  in  a  story  released 
in  the  Chicago  Times  Herald  in  June  1897.  A  reporter 
interviewed  James  H.  Agen,  a  Civil  War  soldier,  and 
learned  that  he  had  in  his  possession  a  valuable  letter 
written  to  his  mother.  Upon  being  questioned  for  more 
detail  about  the  letter  Mr.  Agen  told  the  following  story : 

"Let  me  tell  you  a  story  before  answering  your  double 
question :  In  1864,  while  following  Grant  near  Riclimond, 
and  when  we  had  come  so  close  to  it  that  they  could 
hear  our  muskets,  and  we  their  church  bells,  I  was  stricken 
with  a  fever  and  sent  to  hospital.  In  time  they  landed 
me,  more  dead  than  alive,  in  one  of  the  great  hospitals 
at  Washington.  I  was  a  very  sick  boy.  Boy  is  right,  for 
that  -was  all  I  was — sweet  16,  as  a  girl  of  that  age  v>-ould 
be.    For  three  Aveeks  I  had  no  ambition  to  live. 

"One  day,  after  I  had  passed  the  danger  point,  and 
was  taking  a  little  notice  of  what  was  going  on,  a  number 
of  ladies  came  through  the  hospital.  They  had  baskets 
containing  delicacies  and  bouquets  of  beautiful  flowers. 
One  of  them  stopped  at  each  cot  as  they  passed  along.  A 
bunch  of  blossoms  was  handed  to  each  sick  or  wounded 
soldier,  and  if  he  desired  it  a  delicacy  of  some  kind  was 
also  distributed.  Every  now  and  then  one  of  the  women 
sat  in  a  camp  chair  and  wrote  a  letter  for  the  poor  fellow 
who  hadn't  the  strength  to  write  himself. 

"I  wanted  nothing  to  eat  or  drink,  but  those  pretty 
posies  held  my  attention.  One  of  the  ladies  stopped  at 
my  cot.  I  hadn't  yet  got  my  full  growth,  and  in  my 
then  emaciated,  pale  condition  I  must  have  looked  like 
a  child.    She  seemed  surprised  as  she  looked  at  me. 

"  'You  poor  child,  what  brought  you  here?' 

"  'They  sent  me  here  from  the  Army  of  the  Potomac' 

"  'But  you  are  not  a  soldier?' 

"  'Yes,  madam.  I  belong  to  a  New  York  regiment.  The 
surgeon  here  has  the  record.' 

"  'Can  I  do  anything  for  you?  Can  you  eat  something 
or  take  a  swallow  of  wine?' 

"  'I'm  not  hungry  or  thirsty.' 

"  'Can  I  write  a  letter  for  you?' 

"  'Not  to-day.    I'm  too  weak.' 

"  'Then  I  will  leave  some  of  these  flowers  v/ith  you. 
President  Lincoln  helped  to  cull  them.  I  will  come  again 
in  two  or  three  days.  Keep  up  your  courage.  You  are 
going  to  get  well.    You  must  get  well.' 

"She  was  the  first  woman  who  had  spoken  to  me  since 
I  had  reached  the  army.  Looking  at  the  sweet  flowers 
which  Mr.  Lincoln  had  'helped  to  cull,'  and  thinking  of 
the  dear  woman  who  had  spoken  so  kindly  and  hopefully 
had  m.ore  effect  in  brightening  my  spirits  than  all  else 
that  had  occurred  in  the  hospital. 

"Three  days  later  the  same  lady  came  again,  and 
direct  to  my  cot. 

"  'How  is  my  little  soldier  boy  to-day?'  she  asked  in  a 
way  so  motherly  that  it  reminded  me  of  my  good  mother 
back  in  New  York,  the  patriot  mother  who  had  given 
her  consent  to  my  going  to  the  war  after  praying  over 
the  matter  many  times.  The  hospital  angel — that 
was  what  we  learned  to  call  those  noble  v\'omen — after 
giving  me  a  taste  of  chicken  and  jelly,  asked  me  if  I  had 
a  mother.    She  saw  by  the  tears  in  my  eyes  that  I  had. 

"  'Now  we  will  write  mother  a  letter.' 

"Then  she  sat  by  my  side  and  v;rote  the  letter.  I  hadn't 
been  able  to  write  for  a  month. 

"  'I  have  told  your  mother  that  I  am  near  her  soldier 
boy  and  have  talked  with  him.  What  shall  I  tell  her  for 
you?    That  you  are  still  too  weak  to  write  yourself?' 

"  'Please  don't  tell  her  that.  It  will  make  her  worry. 
Tell  her  I  am  fast  getting  well.' 

"The  first  day  I  got  home  my  mother  aslced  me  how  I 
liked  Mrs.  Lincoln,  the  President's  wife. 

"  'I  never  met  Mrs.  Lincoln.  What  made  you  think 
I  had?' 

"Then  she  took  from  a  box  closely  guarded  in  an  old 
bureau  a  letter.    It  read  like  this: 

"  'Dear  Mrs.  Agen :  I  am  sitting  by  the  side  of  your  sol- 
dier boy.  He  has  been  quite  sick,  but  is  getting  well.  He 
tells  me  to  say  to  you  that  he  is  all  right.  With  respect 
for  the  mother  of  the  young  soldier. 

"  'Mrs.  Abraham  Lincoln.' 

"That  was  the  first  that  I  knew  that  it  was  the  Presi- 
dent's wife  who  had  made  me  those  two  visits.  I  begged 
my  mother  to  give  me  the  letter.  'You  can  have  it  when 
I  am  gone.'  When  she  died,  a  box  and  an  old  letter  folded 
in  a  silk  handkerchief  were  among  her  gifts  to  me. 

"The  box,  kerchief  and  letter  will  pass  along  the  Agen 
line  as  mementos  too  sacied  for  everyday  display." 



statement  appears  in  Lincoln  Lore,  Number  1579,  Sep- 
tember, 1969,  Lincoln's  Law  Offices  In  The  Tinsley 
Building-  1843-1852:  "When  one  attempts  to  define  the 
precise  location  of  the  Lincoln-Herndon  law  office  during 
the  entire  period  of  the  firm's  existence,  there  is  some 
confusion.  This  is  due  to  the  fact  that  several  .  .  .  issues 
of  the  Illinois  State  Journal  are  missing  which  would 
have  shown  a  change,  if  they  had  moved,  in  their  busi- 
ness card." 

Even  the  Micro  Photo  Division  of  Bell  &  Howell,  who 
have  micro  film  of  the  Illinois  State  Journal  from  June 
16,  1848,  to  December  30,  1865,  (35  reels)  available  for 
sale,  advises  its  prospective  customers  that  missing 
from  the  files  are  the  numbers  from  September  14,  1843, 
through  December  and  June  20-30,  1855,  and  July  1-9,  of 
the  same  year. 

Editor's  Note:  For  a  more  complete  description  of  the  files  of  the 
Illinois  State  Journal,  consult  the  publication  titled.  "Newspapers  in 
the  Illinois  State  Historical  Library,"  edited  by  Vi^illiam  E.  Keller, 
reprinted  from  Illinois  Libraries,  June,  1970,  by  the  Illinois  State 
Historical  Library,  page  543. 

(A  Good  Investment) 

On  October  25,  1967,  Abraham  Lincoln's  Official  Seal 
of  the  United  States  sold  for  $12,000.  It  was  a  part  of 
the  Justin  G.  Turner  collection  sold  at  the  Charles  Ham- 
ilton Auction  (see  catalogue  No.  22)  at  the  Waldorf 
Astoria.  The  seal  was  used  by  Lincoln  while  president. 

The  item  is  described  as  follows:  "the  seal  %"  in 
diameter  and  inscribed  in  brass,  mounted  on  a  carved 
ivory  handle  (age  yellowed  and  with  a  few  tiny  cracks), 
bearing  a  circular  design  on  its  top.  The  overall  height 
is  about  31/4".  Contained  in  a  special  folding  case  made 
by  Atmore  Beach  of  brown  morocco  with  inner  linings 
of  beige  moire  silk,  gilt  stamped  on  spine,  'Abraham 
Lincoln's  Presidential  Seal,'  and  on  front  cover,  'Justin 
G.  Turner  Collection.'  "  The  pre-sale  estimated  value  of 
the  relic  was  $2,000. 

The  seal  had  previously  been  sold  by  the  Parke-Bernet 
Galleries,  Inc.  on  February  19-20,  1952,  at  the  time  of 
the  disposition  of  the  collection  of  the  late  Oliver  R. 

Two  different  views  of  Lincoln's  official  seal  which,  if  price 
existence  today. 

Barrett,  of  Chicago,  Illinois.  The  item  listed  as  Number 
284  on  page  122  of  the  sale  catalogue  gives  the  following 
description:  "Seal  of  the  United  States  used  by  Abraham 
Lincoln  while  President,  ivory  handle  with  brass  seal. 
Height  31/4  inches.  With  card  inscribed:  'Seal  used  by 
Abraham  Lincoln  when  President.  W.  H.  Crook'.  Accom- 
panying is  a  printed  invitation  of  Mr  and  Mrs  Abraham 
Lincoln  to  'Mrs.  Goddard'  in  an  envelope,  with  a  wax 
impression  of  the  above  seal.  The  envelope  is  defective. 
Illustrated  in  Sandburg,  Lincoln  Collector,  facing  p.  145." 

The  Parke-Bernet  Galleries,  Inc.  did  not  estimate  the 
value  of  the  various  items  offered  for  sale,  which  appears 
to  be  no  longer  the  practice  of  most  auction  houses.  The 
seal  sold  for  $650. 

Thus  the  purchaser  of  the  relic  at  the  Barrett  sale 
realized  a  1746%  gain  on  his  investment.  Perhans  the 
same  can  be  said  of  the  estate  of  the  late  Anna  Thomp- 
son Dodge,  who  sold  through  Christie's  on  June  24, 
1971,  a  French  18th  century  writing  table  for  $415,800. 

Mrs.  Lincoln  Among  The  Sick  And  Wounded 

Among  the  many  ladies  who  visit  our  sick  soldiers 
with  cheerful  words  and  offices,  none  are  more  inde- 
fatigable than  Mrs.  Lincoln.  She,  yesterday,  visited  the 
Odd  Fellows  Hall  Hospital,  Navy  Yard,  much  to  the 
gratification  of  the  sufferers  there,  and  kindly  admin- 
istered to  their  wants  in  various  ways  —  bestowing 
gifts,  kind  words  and,  among  others,  Mrs.  Lincoln 
visited  the  bedside  of  one  old  soldier,  over  sixty  years  of 
age,  who  had  expressed  a  desire  to  see  her.  After  some 
conversation,  she  bestowed  upon  the  old  soldier  a  hand- 
some donation.  Her  visit  will  long  be  remembered  by 
the  invalids. 

Washi7igt07i  Star 
August  29,  1862 

Note:  On  Au.crust  12,  1862,  Mrs.  Lincoln  received  from  a  Boston 
merchant  a  donation  of  .$1,000  for  relief  work  in  military  hospitals. 
On  August  16.  1862,  a  request  was  made  of  Hiram  Barney  to  buy 
$200  worth  of  lemons  and  $100  worth  of  oranfres  for  Mrs.  Lincoln  to 
distribute  to  hospitals.  Lincoln  Day  By  Day  -  A  Chronology  1809-1865, 
Volume  III:  1861-1865,  pases  138-134. 

From  the  Lincoln  National  Life,  Foundation 
an  index,  must  be  one  of  the  most  valuable  Lincoln  relics  in 

The  pictures  are  arranged  chronologically  around 
Homer's  works  engraved  for  "Harper's  Weekly," 
the  leading  illustrated  review  of  that  time.  A  brief 
apprenticeship  with  a  Boston  lithographer  and  a 
few  art  lessons  in  New  York  Cit>-  had  been  the 
extent  of  his  formal  art  training, butatage  21  hewas 
already  being  published  by  "Harper's"  as  well  as 
other  pictorial  media.  He  covered  Lincoln's 
inauguration  for  the  magazine  and  when  hostilities 
between  the  North  and  South  broke  out,  he  was  sent 
to  the  front  as  its  "special  artist." 

During  the  ne.xt  four  years  the  battleground 
became  both  his  school  and  his  studio.  At  first  he 
thrilled  to  the  drama  and  heroism  of  battle,  depict- 
ing what  he  saw  with  remarkable  realism, butas  the 
v\'ar  dragged  on,  he  recoiled  from  the  scenes  of 
death  and  turned  to  life  among  the  men  in  camp, 
with  its  moments  of  humor,  camaraderie  and 

Homer's  art  brought  the  look  and  feel  of  the  war 
home  to  his  countr>-men.  Although  he  accompanied 
the  Union  Army  and  presented  the  war  from  the 
Northern  viewpoint,  he  fully  saw  the  tragedy  in  civil 
warfare  and  honestly  portrayed  both  victor  and 
vanquished  with  the  same  compassion  and  dignity-. 

The  198  reproductions  of  Winslow  Homer's  Civil 
War  art  show  his  extraordinar>-  skill  with  pencil, 
brush  and  engraving  tools.  The  oil,  "Pitching  Horse- 
shoes," showing  Zouaves  at  play  in  camp,  is  Homer 
at  his  best  in  technique  and  coloring.  His  pencil 
sketches  of  men  in  motion  are  particularly  realistic 
and  one  can  almost  feel  the  anxiety  and  tenseness 
that  must  have  been  the  lot  of  ever\-  soldier. 

This  is  a  superb  book,  capably  edited,  and  it  is  a 
fine  addition  to  Ci^■i]  War  bibliography. 

—Allan  McMahan 

Fort  Wa\-ne  Journal  Gazette 

January  5,  1975 

An  Eyewitness  Account  o 
Mrs.  Lincoln  To  Campbell 

On  many  occasions  President 
Abraham  Lincoln  and  Mrs.  Lincoln 
visited  the  sick  and  wounded  soldiers  in 
Washington,  D.C.  hospitals.  One  such 
visit  was  to  the  Campbell  Hospital  in  the 
capitolcity.  The  date  was  May  29, 1864.  It 
was  Dr.  Darius  Orton,  a  Federal  Army 
surgeon  in  charge  of  one  of  theCampbell 
Hospital  wards,  who  recorded  the  events 
of  the  presidential  visit  in  his  personal 
journal.  Even  though  this  visit  is  not 
mentioned  in  Lincoln  Day  By  Day  -  A 
Chronology,  Vol.  Ill,  1861-1864,  the  hand 
written  record  of  Dr.  Orton  (pages  68-69) 
leaves  no  doubt  as  to  the  accuracy  of  the 

While  a  hospital  visit  is  of  no  great 
historical  significance,  all  eye-witness 
accounts  of  Lincoln's  activities  during  his 
presidency  are  of  importance  to  students. 

The  medical  journal  of  Dr.  Orton  has 
recently  been  acquired  by  Norm 
Flayderman  of  New  Milford,  Connecti- 
cut, who  has  kindly  given  permission  to 
the  editors  of  the  Lincoln  Herald  to 
publish  the  information  on  those  pages 
relative  to  the  Lincolns. 

With  considerable  difficulty,  the 
facsimile  pages  of  the  journal  have  been 

EDrroR's  .Note:  The  editor  is  indebted  to  Donald  C. 
Chambers,  M.D.  of  the  Medical  Department  of  the 
Lincoln  .National  Life  Insurance  Company  for  his 
help  in  transcribing  the  manuscript. 

f  a  Visit  By  President  and 
Hospital,  Washington,  D.C. 

transcribed  with  some  omissions, 
particularly  those  words  relative  to 
medical  terms. 

George  L.  Chase,  Pr.  Co D .  36th  Mass.  \'ols.  Regt. 
•Admitted  .May  27,  1864.  Description  of  wound  - 
Gunshot  woundof  RightKnee-  received  in  action 
at  Wilderness,  May  6,  1864.  Operation  per- 
formed May  29th  in  Campbell  Hospital  -  By  Dr. 
Sheldon  Surg,  in  charge  -  When  this  patient  was 
admitted  he  sho\\'ed  every  symptom  of  recovers' 

-  the  knee  joint  was  not  opened  -  and  it  was  not 
until  several  days  had  passed  that  erv  sipilas  set  in 
and  inflamed  the  joint  to  such  a  degree  that 
amputation  was  certainly  indicated  -  The 
amputation  was  performed  -  and  1  had  just 
brought  him  in  from  the  operating  room  -  when 
Mr.  and  .Mrs.  Lincoln  came  through  the  Hospital. 
They  came  into  my  ward  just  as  he  was  recover- 
ing from  the  effects  of  the  anesthetic  when  she 
came  along  where  he  lay  -  she  took  him  by  the 
hand  and  the  Dr.  toldhun  that  it  was  Mrs.  Lincoln 

-  he  cried  out  how  do  >  ou  do  Mrs.  Lincoln  -  Oh!  I 
am  so  glad  to  see  >-ou  -  she  petted  the  poor  boy  a 
few  moments  -  gave  him  a  bouquet  of  flowers  - 
Uncle  Abe  took  him  b>-  the  hand  -  bid  him  good 
b\  e  and  left  -  he  ne%  er  rallied  from  the  shock  -  or 
at  least  only  partialK-.  The  Knee  when  amputated 
was  ver>'  badly  swollen  -  painful.  None  of  us  had 
much  hope  for  a  recovers  .  The  treatment  was 
good  diet  . . .  Iron  .  .  .  and  plenty  of  good  Beef 
ele.xir.  Sodium  was  painted  on  the  limb  but  to  no 
usehesank  gradualK-  and  died  from  Pyemia,  June 
17,  1864. 

I  made  a  post  mortem  Examination  after  death 
and  found  large  absesses  in  various  parts  of  the 
body  and  also  the  sup  (superior)  lobe  of  the  Left 
Lung  filled  with  Tubercule  in  the  2  degree  of 
softening  -  the  other  organs  were  normal. 




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